Children's Dental Health

The Pew Children's Dental Campaign is working to ensure that more children receive dental care and benefit from policies proven to prevent tooth decay.

We are mounting a national campaign to raise awareness of the problem, recruit influential leaders to call for change, and showcase states that have made progress and can serve as models for pragmatic, cost-effective reform. Our advocacy efforts are targeted at states where policy changes can dramatically improve children’s lives.

The problems affecting children’s dental health are severe.  Dental care is the single greatest unmet need for health services among children.  Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, affecting nearly 60 percent of children. For some it’s getting worse—between 1994 and 2004 it increased by 15 percent among kids aged two to five. Eighty percent of dental disease in children is concentrated in 25 percent of kids and children from poor families face disproportionately high barriers to getting care. The consequences can be devastating to those from low-income and minority households.

Some problems may be intractable. This one is not. Working in concert with lawmakers and other government officials, dental providers, national, state and local organizations, researchers, advocates and the private sector, Pew's State and Consumer Initiatives can help millions of kids maintain healthy teeth —making it possible for young children to thrive in school and become healthy, productive adults.

What We Do
The Pew Children's Dental Campaign works on four efficient, cost-effective solutions:

  • ensure that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program – the programs that serve  low-income children – work better for kids and for providers so that insurance coverage translates into real access to needed care
  • expand sealant programs for kids who need them most
  • help expand access to optimally fluoridated water
  • expand the number of professionals who can provide dental care to low-income children

About the Director
Read more about the Initiative's director, Shelly Gehshan.

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